Alumna Valerie Sweeley Works as Corporate Librarian in a Silicon Valley Company’s Digital Library

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San José State University School of Information alumna Valerie Sweeley works in a digital library for a large Silicon Valley company, and says the internship she completed while still a master’s student at the SJSU School of Information, and the technology skills she gained in her courses, played a key role in helping her land a job as a corporate librarian.

Sweeley works at Applied Materials, a large semiconductor equipment manufacturer in Santa Clara, California. Her duties in the company’s almost completely digital library include managing the library’s website, training employees on library resources, promoting the library, conducting literature and patent searches, and providing information resources to engineers and other employees.

After earning her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree in December 2007, Sweeley felt lucky to get her job just before the recession hit. She started the job in September 2008, and credits an internship she did during her last year in the MLIS program with helping set her apart from other applicants in the competitive Silicon Valley job market.

Sweeley’s internship was at another Silicon Valley firm, SAP Labs, where she worked in content management for a website that provides technical resources for SAP customers. “I had a wonderful mentor there who really challenged me,” she said. “I’m sure if I had not had that internship, I wouldn’t have gotten my job.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2000 from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Sweeley worked for several years as an administrative assistant. Then, feeling burned out, she started looking for a career field with more potential. “I have two family members who are librarians and they inspired me to pursue librarianship,” she said. “It turned out to be an excellent fit for me.”

Sweeley started the MLIS program with the goal of working in a corporate setting, so she followed the Special Librarianship career pathway when choosing her electives. Having worked as an administrative assistant in both university and corporate settings, she greatly preferred the corporate job environment. She also thought a job in a corporate setting might offer opportunities to learn other aspects of business and to travel.

Her job at Applied Materials has provided those opportunities, Sweeley said. She conducts library training sessions at other company locations, such as Austin, Texas, and Kalispell, Montana, and she’s hoping to soon be traveling internationally. She’s also learned more about project management, intellectual property law, and event organization.

Asked where she’d like to be working in five years, Sweeley said, “I really love the company I work for, so I hope I’m still working here.” Her professional goals are to gain skills in competitive intelligence and in SharePoint in order to offer even better service to the users of the company’s library.

Favorite Things about the MLIS Program

“I chose it because it was close by [at the time there were still classes on campus], and it was very flexible. I needed to continue working full time while I went to school, and also had a baby in the middle of the program. I liked the program because the instructors were really knowledgeable and supportive, and I was able to meet people who had the same interests as me.”

Influential Classes

“Two of my favorite classes were INFO 244 Online Searching and INFO 245 Advanced Online Searching. I use things I learned in those courses every day at my job. Also, INFO 220 Resources and Information Services in Professions and Disciplines was a course I really enjoyed and got a lot out of because it was special libraries-focused.”

Career Tip

“I highly recommend doing an internship. I almost didn’t do one because I had to work full time and had a baby, but I ended up doing one and it was invaluable to my career.”

Tech Tip

“I think a basic knowledge of HTML is essential these days for librarians, especially in a corporate setting where you likely will be in a small group or solo and responsible for your own intranet site.”

Professional Affiliation

Special Libraries Association (SLA)

Best Conference

“I have been to SLA three times and Internet Librarian once. For what I do, SLA is more relevant. It’s a wonderful way to network, learn new things to apply to your work and career, and meet with vendors. I highly recommend students who want to work in a special library to join and become active.”